Harry Maguire has demonstrated his mental strength upon his return to Manchester United's team, according to Emile Heskey, who says the defender should be shown greater compassion by the media.

Maguire began 2023-24 out in the cold at Old Trafford, having reportedly turned down a move to West Ham to fight for his place, despite receiving fierce criticism from some quarters.

However, injuries to fellow centre-backs Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane forced Erik ten Hag to recall Maguire, who has started United's last eight games across all competitions.

Though the Red Devils have been inconsistent this season, with Ten Hag coming under pressure following a 3-0 rout at the hands of neighbours Manchester City and a chaotic 4-3 Champions League defeat at Copenhagen, Maguire has earned praise for his displays. 

Maguire has helped United earn back-to-back shutout wins over Fulham and Luton Town, and Heskey is pleased to see the 30-year-old respond to the criticism he has received. 

"He's got to be mentally strong, and I think this is one of the things where we forget that they are human," Heskey told Stats Perform. "We batter them and think they should just accept that. 

"We forget that players are mentally very, very strong to deal with those sorts of scenarios. But they still need help because we don't know how they're coping away from here. 

"I can talk to you here and say all the right things, but away from here, you don't know whether I'm crying. You don't know whether I'm pulling my hair out because it's not going right. 

"It's great that now he's showing his full strength of character, being back in the team."

Maguire's lack of playing time at club level has led to criticism of Gareth Southgate's decision to select him in England teams, and he was repeatedly booed by the Three Lions' fans last year.

Heskey recalled his experience of receiving harsh treatment from the press towards the end of his own international career as he called for the media to act in a more considerate manner.

"You've got to have thick skin. I got a lot of it, a hell of a lot of it," Heskey recalled. "I remember coming back from the wilderness in 2007 or 2008. I hadn't played for four years. 

"Coming back, everyone was like; 'Oh, no, not him again'. Now, that's fine, if that's your opinion, but now you're telling everyone else to have that opinion. 

"By putting that in the news, putting that on the back of a newspaper, you're telling them to have that opinion. 

"I was in a great place and it didn't really bother me. But going back years, it might have bothered me because I was younger. 

"At that time, I think I was 28 or something like that. I'd played 11 years of football so it really didn't bother me then. But you've got to sell papers, I get you. You've got to build your profile within social media. 

"Don't forget that it is a human being that you're talking about, and he's got kids, he's got family, he's got friends, he's got all these different people that can be affected by that. 

"I wasn't. I don't know if Harry Maguire is affected by it. He's not showing that he's affected by it. So that's a good thing, but he could be."

Your #ThreeLions for their final camp of 2023!

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Reflecting on the way he saw off-pitch issues impact players' performances, Heskey added: "I remember one coach talking to me about a player and it was to do with his performances. 

"He couldn't go to the manager, so he went to the coach and he sat down with the player. He opened up, he'd got a newborn baby and he hadn't slept for like two weeks. 

"So they gave him a week off, he came back and he was fine. People don't know what's going on in people's lives, beyond actually being on the football pitch or being at work."

Emile Heskey will be stunned if Mauricio Pochettino isn't given time to rebuild Chelsea, who are beginning to show signs of life under the former Tottenham boss.

Chelsea have spent over £1billion in the transfer market in 18 months since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital took over, and they have been inconsistent since embarking on another spending spree ahead of Pochettino's first campaign in charge.

After a below-par start under the Argentine, Chelsea have shown encouraging signs in recent weeks, thrashing nine-man Tottenham 4-1 in a remarkable London derby before playing out a thrilling 4-4 draw with Manchester City on Sunday.

That latter game – the first in the Premier League to feature four equalising goals since Liverpool and Arsenal's iconic 4-4 draw in April 2009 – saw Cole Palmer convert a 95th-minute penalty to deny his former club victory.

Chelsea went into the November international break five points adrift of the Premier League's top six, and with the team starting to show positive signs, Heskey believes Boehly will have greater patience with Pochettino than he did with predecessors Graham Potter and Thomas Tuchel.

"If you haven't negotiated that you need time at Chelsea, a club that was going through so much turmoil at that time, it would be silly," Heskey told Stats Perform.

"I'd be very surprised if he hasn't gone through that with them; 'We need time to actually build this and make sure we've got the time'. 

"The reality is that if you look at some of their games, they've battered teams but not won. So there's something else there in play where the confidence of the players to go and finish, they've lost that. 

"You can't say that you created 26 chances and not scored. There's something right there because you're creating 26 chances, but something's fundamentally wrong when that composure to finish isn't there. 

"That could be with the stadium, the crowd, the tension that comes with that. They've never had it before because you've had all these top forwards who were just banging in goals. 

"They were ruthless. They were relentless. Now they haven't got that, they need something. 

"They've got players that need an arm around them, and they've got players that are low on confidence. How do you bring them back up?"

Chelsea are yet to win a trophy under the Boehly regime, though Pochettino has led them to the quarter-finals of the EFL Cup, a competition which appears wide open with City, Manchester United, Spurs and Arsenal already being knocked out.

Heskey won that competition four times during his playing career, twice with Leicester City and twice with Liverpool, also finishing on the losing side in another two finals. 

While many consider Chelsea among the favourites to win the trophy, Heskey feels they face a tough task in the last eight, adding: "If I look at the next round, they've got Newcastle and that's not an easy job. 

"Newcastle are flying at this moment in time. And for me, if I'm Eddie Howe, that's the competition I want to win."

Ange Postecoglou has done a phenomenal job since taking over at Tottenham and was a natural choice to oversee the club's rebuild due to his charismatic personality.

That is the view of former England striker Emile Heskey, who came up against Postecoglou in the A-League during a two-year spell in Australia with Newcastle Jets between 2012 and 2014.

Postecoglou has had a remarkable impact on Spurs since taking charge, making the best start by any manager in Premier League history by overseeing a return of 26 points from his first 10 games in the competition.

Tottenham trail champions Manchester City by just a single point at the summit ahead of Saturday's trip to Wolves, having suffered their first league defeat under Postecoglou last time out.

Cristian Romero and Destiny Udogie were both sent off as Spurs fell to a 4-1 defeat to Chelsea on Monday, though Postecoglou still earned praise for implementing a daring high line with nine men.

Heskey thinks Postecoglou's openness and willingness to take inspiration from different cultures has helped him succeed, telling Stats Perform: "Ange has been fantastic. 

"I obviously played in Australia for two years, and I saw some of the stuff that the Aussie coaches can do, [it's] very, very technical. 

"A lot of them work off the Dutch philosophy, but with a bit of Aussie grit, they love that. But then he obviously went over to Japan in different places, so he probably learnt the discipline from them.

"Working with that and getting some of that stuff, bringing it over to Europe… what he did at Celtic was phenomenal. 

"Now taking that step into Spurs – and Spurs is a big club – we've got to give it to them. 

"The training ground, the stadium, they're building a squad, they're in London. They should be where they are right now. 

"He's probably the right manager to actually build that, the right manager to take a lot of the pressure away because he's approachable, he's charismatic, he's got everything. 

"He takes a lot of the pressure away from the place that so they can actually perform as well."

Tottenham's flying start to the season has come despite the loss of their all-time leading goalscorer Harry Kane, who is in exceptional form for his new club Bayern Munich, scoring 19 goals and adding seven assists in just 15 appearances for the Bundesliga champions.

Though Heskey accepts Kane's departure may have altered expectations at Spurs, he does not believe it can be seen as a positive for the club.

"I don't know if it [losing Kane] was a bonus," Heskey said. "You can't say getting rid of Harry Kane was a bonus because of what he's doing and what he's done. 

"But I think it's a different focal point now, isn't it? I think it's more of a team focal point. Not just one player. 

"You've got Son [Heung-min], he has to step up to the plate, you've got [James] Maddison, who will always step up to the plate, that's just his temperament. 

"You've got all these players that are now having to pull their weight because they're not just relying on one person."

Postecoglou is looking to avoid back-to-back defeats when Spurs visit Wolves on Saturday, having not lost consecutive league matches since he was in charge of Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan, losing three in a row between November 2020 and February 2021.

Manchester United have lost the air of "invincibility" which characterised Alex Ferguson's trophy-laden reign at Old Trafford.

That is the view of former England striker Emile Heskey, who sees Erik ten Hag's Red Devils as a group of expensively assembled individuals, rather than a coherent team. 

United have made an underwhelming start to their second season under Ten Hag, sitting eighth in the Premier League table after 11 matches despite Saturday's last-gasp 1-0 win at Fulham.

In Europe, the Red Devils began their Champions League group-stage campaign with back-to-back defeats to Bayern Munich and Galatasaray before needing Andre Onana to save a stoppage-time penalty in a hard-fought 1-0 win over Copenhagen.

With Ten Hag attracting criticism from supporters and pundits, Heskey believes his tenure shares many similarities with those of his predecessors Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Jose Mourinho.

Asked why Ten Hag has failed to revive United's fortunes, Heskey told Stats Perform: "It's the million-dollar question, isn't it? You look at Ole… he never got [United into form], Jose never got that either. 

"There's a consistency with… I wouldn't say this bunch of players, but with the club bringing players in that they're not able to string together and gel. 

"I don't see them as a team, I don't see them as a team that's going to fight for each other. Look at Spurs, a team that's going to really dig down and fight for each other. 

"It happens with eras, you go through that. They've lost that invincibility. 

"[United] won the game before the actual game started in my era. Teams that would go there and you're already set up to lose. 

"[Now] teams are actually going to Old Trafford and saying, 'Well, we're going to win this, this is how we're going to set up'. They've lost that invincibility."

Forward Marcus Rashford is among the United players attracting scrutiny after failing to reach the heights he hit last term, when he scored 30 goals across all competitions. 

Rashford was criticised by Ten Hag for going out to celebrate his birthday just hours after 3-0 defeat to rivals Manchester City recently. Having missed Saturday's win at Fulham through injury, he then hit out at what he described as "malicious rumours" regarding his future on social media.

Rashford signed a new five-year contract with United in July, but Heskey does not believe that has impacted his form, saying: "I don't think it's anything to do with the contract. 

"As fans, we're looking for something. The reality is there's a lot of onus on him being a local lad, there's a lot of pressure on him. 

"He needs to figure out how to deal with that pressure again, like he did last season, because there was a lot of pressure on him but he managed to still get the goals. 

"The fascinating thing is he's probably giving the same sort of performance as last season, but he was finishing his chances. 

"Now, when you're not finishing your chances, everyone's looking at the money, everyone's looking at your lifestyle. Everyone's looking at what you do here, what you don't do there.

"You just want to concentrate on football. But if you just concentrate on football and it eats away at you and you have a mental breakdown, then you're saying, 'why didn't you go and do something else outside of football?'

"I think for Marcus, he just needs to figure out, 'what's good for me?'"

Rashford has only scored once in 14 appearances for United across all competitions this season, despite attempting 38 shots totalling 3.82 expected goals (xG) in those matches.

Emile Heskey believes Gareth Southgate should be given the chance to turn England's fortunes around after relegation from League A in the Nations League.

The Three Lions' manager has come in for criticism after his team finished bottom of Group 3, failing to win any of their six outings against Italy, Hungary and Germany (D3 L3).

With the World Cup in Qatar kicking off in less than two months, the pressure is on Southgate to deliver, though he did guide England to the semi-finals in Russia in 2018 before reaching the final of the rescheduled Euro 2020 tournament last year.

Heskey – who made 62 appearances for England – thinks Southgate and his players can turn it around and can take positives from their 3-3 draw with Germany at Wembley on Monday.

Speaking to Stats Perform, the former Liverpool and Aston Villa striker said: "I think the draw against Germany did redeem [England] in some cases.

"I thought the fight they showed was fantastic to get it back to 3-2 because they could easily have given up at 2-0 [down]. But they fought back to make it 3-2 and then 3-3, obviously.

"Football has always fascinated me [because] we put no pressure on them, and [then] they get to a semi-final and a final, then we suddenly heap a load of pressure on them and you can see what's happening."

Prior to the six-goal thriller with Germany, England had failed to score with any of their previous 62 non-penalty shots, a run of seven hours and 30 minutes without a non-penalty goal.

Southgate's men are also winless in their last six games in all competitions, their longest run since April to June 1993 (also six). It is their longest ever winless run going into a major tournament.

"When you're not doing well, they're going to justify criticism, and you've got to accept that criticism. It's how you bounce back from that," Heskey added.

"None of these have turned into bad players overnight, and the manager isn't a bad manager overnight. I think you've got to give him the opportunity to turn it around and turn the fortune of the players around as well."

One of the concerns widely discussed has been whether Southgate knows his best team before they take on Iran, the United States and Wales in Group B at the World Cup, but Heskey pointed out selection headaches mean the manager has a number of credible options available to him.

"You could put it either way," he said. "It could be alarming, or it could be a good thing that we don't know the best 11 because players are coming in.

"You've even got Ivan Toney coming into the [last] squad... [Mason] Mount's played a lot of games and then come back in and scored.

"So it's always good to keep the manager on his toes. But you really should know who your starting 11 is coming up to a major tournament."

Raheem Sterling has struck fear into opponents at Euro 2020 ahead of England's final showdown with Italy, former Three Lions forward Emile Heskey told Stats Perform.

Sterling had already scored three goals before laying on the opener for captain Harry Kane in the 4-0 quarter-final win against Ukraine.

The Manchester City attacker was then in electrifying form in the semi-final versus Denmark, eventually winning the decisive penalty in extra time, with Kane beating Kasper Schmeichel on the rebound after his initial spot-kick was saved.

Sterling has attempted (32) and completed (18) more take-ons than any other player at Euro 2020 and Heskey believes this relentless edge to the 26-year-old's game will be vital as he pits his wits against the expertise of Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini in the Italy defence.

"Raheem has showed us time and time again that he is a key player to any team that he goes into," he said.

"Whether it be when he was very young and was playing for Liverpool, or now as a senior pro – even though he's only 26 – playing for the for the national team and playing for Man City. He always brings something.

"You watch him when he's on the ball, he takes away three or four players that become attracted to him.

"If he gives it away, he'll inevitably be trying win it back. But when you've got four people attracted to one player, there should be ample space for others and that's what he brings to the table because everyone's so scared of him.

"He's got that pace and we see a lot of players with pace, but to be able to utilize it in the way that he does… even in extra time [against Denmark] he was driving past players and taking them on.

"Players were not wanting to get too close, because it's going to be a foul if you get too close to him. No defender wants to go anywhere near him."


Heskey is also a huge admirer of the manner in which Sterling and other members of the England squad have stood up for causes they believe in over recent months.

Sterling was awarded an MBE last month for his efforts to promote racial equality, while England's players have continued to take a knee before matches despite the likes of UK prime minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Pritti Patel defending fans who chose to boo the peaceful protest.

"It's fantastic. You’ve got to take your hat off to them, because again, they're getting a little bit of kickback," said Heskey, who was also keen to acknowledge Marcus Rashford's work in trying to combat child hunger.

"But they know that they're doing the right thing standing up for what they believe, whether it's Marcus, whether it's Raheem, whoever it is. They want to stand up for what they believe.

"The wrong people are going to try and sabotage that. But they know that they've got most of the people behind them."

Heskey added: "We're not just talking about fans, we're talking about all walks of life, talking about MP's saying whether it's right or wrong.

"So we're having kickbacks from everywhere, but they're still pushing. They're still not listening. They're still doing what they believe is right."

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